Sudden Death Fight to the Finish

By November 19, 2003, 5:00 pm
The Big BreakEditor's Note: The Golf Channel aired the seventh episode of its original series, The Big Break, Tuesday in which a group of scratch golfers vie in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges. Each week one contestant will be eliminated until there is just one man left standing on the tee box. That lucky winner will get the Big Break of his golfing career - exemptions into four Canadian Tour events airing on The Golf Channel in 2004.
With the group of contestants now cut in half, the players began to realize that they had to start depending on good golf shots, and not so much on luck, in order to survive. But what they didnt know was what type of challenges the day had in store. And that for two players, sudden death was knocking on the door to elimination.
I feel like Ive got a pretty well-rounded game. My strength is my mind, but were in survival mode; youre just trying to survive, noted Justin Peters. Youve got to be patient though, but I know if I hit the shots Im capable of then Im going to be hard to beat.
In the skills challenge, Golf Channel Troubleshooter Rick Smith informed the players what theyve been waiting to hear all along ' that the mulligan they would be playing for was to be won by playing actual golf. Each player would play a par-5, tee to green, with the lowest score winning the mulligan and an Golden Tee video game.
Randy Block swingThe tee shots were mixed, with one (Mark Farnham) finding trees on the left, one (Randy Block) finding a fairway bunker, another (Craig Pawling) landing in the left rough and two (Justin Peters and Anthony Sorentino) landing safely in the fairway. Eagle was possible, but as the players reached the green birdie looked to be the score to beat. Farnham, Pawling and Sorentino were out after their up and down attempts failed to produce nothing below par. So it was down to Block and Peters, with Block having a 15-footer for birdie and Peters, whose chip nestled up to within five feet, also putting for birdie.
Block drained his long putt and then watched as Peters slide his by the hole, giving Block the mulligan and the video game.
Randy dropped a solid putt right in the center and I got up there and missed, said Peters about failing to win the prize. Its just the game of golf. Sometimes you think youre in the drivers seat and things just turn real quick.
With the fun skills challenge over and the elimination challenge now at hand, we were soon to discover how the players would perform by scrambling from tough situations -- combining both good decision making and good golf shots.
Each golfer was to play out a hole from two different trouble positions -- each around 75 yards from the pin. The player with the highest cumulative score from both holes was going home.
The first shot required the player to either go over a large tree or use a punch shot that flew below the branches. The second shot made the player choose which way to go around a tree to a pin tucked just over a bunker fronting the green.
On the first hole, Pawling, who elected to use the punch shot, failed in judging the distance as his ball missed the branches but wound up short and in the rough. His effort to get up and down also failed and he took a 4 on the hole.
Blocks wedge over the tree resulted in a short putt for a 2, and the lead, going into the second and last hole.
This time it was Farnham who found trouble as he scrambled to make a 4, just as Pawling nailed a putt for a 3 that would pit the two in a sudden death playoff.
Peters, Block and Sorentino were all safely onto the next show.
All you could do was watch, but your rooting for both of them as you know one of them is going home, said Peters about the sudden-death scenario. You just hope it ends the way it should end ' with a good golf shot.
On the first playoff hole, Farnham came through with a clutch up-and-down to equal Pawlings score of 3 and force a second playoff hole.
Mark Farnham putts to avoid eliminationBoth players were still off the green after their first shot, though, Pawling was in a much better position than Farnham. Farnham, however, hit a beautiful flop shot from a tight, downhill lie that stopped about eight feet from the hole. Pawlings ensuing chip rolled up to two-and-a-half feet and put the pressure squarely back on Farnham.
Farnhams putt slid agonizingly close by the cup and Pawling drained his knee-knocker to finally oust Farnham and move on the next episode.
I am so pleased. Craig had to make a shot to beat me, said the departing Farnham, who was the shows resident clown. I hung in around with 10 of the best, undiscovered golfers in the country for seven shows. I am really pleased that I gave it my absolute best shot!
Tune in next Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as its finally down to the final four. The elimination challenge will get emotions running high as it will pit strength against strength.
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    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."